As Allstate’s 2016 survey of 1,000 American adults revealed, most of us highly value our family photos and other keepsakes over nearly all our other possessions. If that’s true for you, then digital preservation and archiving should definitely be on your radar — and your priorities! Even the best homeowner’s insurance can’t replace these irreplaceable items. Whether your photos and videos are chiefly stored in antiquated formats or in digital form, we have some recommendations on how to preserve them.
Getting Started with Digital Archiving
The Memory Lab’s free resources utilize a variety of equipment and software to help individual citizens to create digital archives of personal items. Many other libraries throughout the country offer similar preservation assistance programs. Helpful online preservation tools include those available from the American Library Association. While these resources may be helpful, the same basic steps will need to be followed however you choose to navigate the process of digital preservation.
Listing Items for Archiving
Locating and listing those items you wish to preserve is a great starting point. Perhaps your list will include archaic film strips, a thumb drive, hard copy photo albums and scrap books, and more. If some of the items you have are duplicates or ones you don’t wish to preserve, this is the time to either pass them along or throw them away.
Organizing Items from Your List
Once you’ve collected the items you wish to archive and have created a basic list, it’s time to get them organized. Start by transferring and downloading files you wish to preserve and saving them to a single location or device. You may choose a single external hard drive or several thumb drives. Be sure to label each one carefully, packaging it and labeling it specifically. You may be combining files from DVDs, social media sites, and mobile devices. Audio, visual, and audio-visual files should all be organized similarly:
- Use descriptive titles for each item
- Create folders or directories to categorize items
- Write a document that describes contents & organization
As you name files, it’s best to use a consistent format, to make finding files easier in the future. (For instance, you might label one file as “2016_Holidays” and another as “2017_Vacation.”)
Converting Hard Copies to Digital Formats
Chances are, not all your family photos or videos are in digital format. You can scan any documents or photographs with your own scanner or at your local library or copy center. Obsolete audio-video formats such as VHS tapes will require special equipment in order to convert them to a usable format. Here are some tips (download the PDF) from the Library of Congress on converting these and other kinds of files to modern digital formats.
Once you’ve converted older formats to digital and organized your files, be sure to make a second copy and store them in two different locations. Each year, be sure to check saved files, updating them when necessary, to ensure no data is lost. And always keep the originals, too.
The Nicholas Insurance Agency, led by Greg Nicholas, is a family owned business serving the York county, Pennsylvania region. Offering exclusively Allstate insurance products, the Nicholas Agency provides auto, homeowners, rental and landlord insurance as well as life & disability, recreational vehicle, motorcycle and personal liability insurance. For more information, visit our two York, PA locations at Westgate Plaza or York Marketplace or call us at (717) 764-2024.